Today we visited one of our favorite stores, Half Price Books. In their clearance shelf, I found a wonderful book entitled Neighbors by Archie Leiberman. Its subtitle is "A Forty-Year Portrait of an American Farm Community". I flipped through it at the store, and being one who loves photographic essays, I found it worthy of the $1 price tag and brought it home.
When I had time today, I sat down and began browsing through the pictures. The truth is I bought it to study the style Mr. Leiberman used. I was hoping to learn something that I could incorporate into my own photography. What I found, though, was a comrade captured by the wonder of small town life, the powerful sense of family that comes from a farm community, and the joy and comfort that comes from belonging there. Mr. Leiberman found out about this earthly utopia due to a photo assignment. I found out by birth. He moved from the city to become part of it. I find myself praying to rejoin it.
The wonderful part of this photographic view of the lives in this farm community is the manuscript that ties them all together. The conversation transcripts, quotes, and stories bring life to the pictures. These written memories and oral pictures of life fill in the gaps and draw one into the lives of these people.
For me, the stories were familiar; the pictures have been lived by me in an earlier time of life. I have seen farms auctioned, churches packed to standing room only for funerals, people sitting at the local store talking about the need for rain or the need for it to stop, and socials where the whole community brought ice cream or cake and no one went away hungry.
As a child, I thought everyone lived that way. I think even then I knew it was a hard way to live, but I also knew it was a good way to live. When people love each other and help each other and take time to check on each other, isn't that a good way to live? I always thought so. I still do.
Hoping life is good where you are......